Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Announces Programming and

Featured Artists for its 2022 Classical Roots Concert

Classical Roots to Celebrate Black Voices and Stories from American Music and Theater

Guest Artists to Include
Classical Roots Community Choir with Soloists Ciara Harper and Noël Walton;
Members of the Nouveau Program; Opera Star Talise Trevigne;
and Broadway Legend Norm Lewis

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CINCINNATI, OH (March 24, 2022)—The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) has announced the program and featured artists for its annual Classical Roots concert on April 22, 2022 at 7:30pm at Cincinnati Music Hall. Led by conductor John Morris Russell, the CSO will celebrate “Black Voices and Stories from American Music and Theater” with selections from opera, film, and Broadway. Highlights include the music of Ragtime and The Wiz and arias from Terence Blanchard’s highly-acclaimed opera Fire Shut Up in My Bones and Gregory Spears’ Castor and Patience, which will receive its world premiere with Cincinnati Opera this July. The Classical Roots program will also pay tribute to Cincinnati’s Grammy Award-winning gospel group, Charles Fold Singers, celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2021.

The CSO will be joined by the Classical Roots Community Choir with choir soloists Ciara Harper and Noël Walton, led by Resident Conductor William Henry Caldwell; talented young musicians of the CSO’s Nouveau Program, coached by Felipe Morales-Torres and Artistic Advisor Marion Peraza de Webb; opera sensation Talise Trevigne; and Emmy, Tony and SAG award nominee Norm Lewis, the first African American actor to perform as the Phantom in Broadway’s long-running production of Phantom of the Opera. Lewis recently starred in Spike Lee’s critically acclaimed Da 5 Bloods.

“It’s always a joy to present our annual Classical Roots program,” said John Morris Russell. “The blend of history, storytelling, and remarkable music is unique among CSO concerts. There is always something new, profound, and thrilling that we all discover together as we celebrate Black musical traditions, and it is an honor and privilege to share it with everyone.”

Tickets to the in-person performance of Classical Roots at Music Hall start at $15 and can be purchased by visiting or by calling the Box Office at 513.381.3300, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. In addition to the in-person performance, the concert will be simultaneously livestreamed for free on the CSO’s website, Facebook page, and CSOvideo Youtube channel on April 22 beginning at 7:30 p.m.


Emmy, Tony and SAG award nominee Norm Lewis recently starred in Spike Lee’s critically acclaimed Da 5 Bloods and in the groundbreaking FX series Pose. Additionally, Lewis can be seen starring in ABC’s new series Women of the Movement. Off-screen, his voice can be heard in the latest season of Apple TV’s animated series Central Park. He was also seen as Caiaphas in the award-winning NBC television special Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert! alongside John Legend, Sara Bareilles and Alice Cooper.

Lewis returned to Broadway in the fall of 2021, starring in Chicken and Biscuits at the Circle in the Square Theatre. He previously appeared in the Broadway revival of Once on This Island and as Sweeney Todd in the Off-Broadway production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at the Barrow Street Theatre, receiving the AUDELCO Award for his performance. In May of 2014, he made history as The Phantom of the Opera’s first African American Phantom on Broadway.

He has been seen on PBS in the Live From Lincoln Center productions of Showboat with Vanessa Williams, Norm Lewis: Who Am I?, New Year’s Eve: A Gershwin Celebration with Dianne Reeves, as well as American Voices with Renée Fleming, and the PBS specials First You Dream—The Music of Kander & Ebb and Ella Wishes You a Swingin’ Christmas. He can be seen recurring in the VH1 series Daytime Divas, also alongside Vanessa Williams. His additional television credits include Dr. Death, Mrs. America, Better ThingsThe Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Bull, Chicago Med, Gotham, The Blacklist and Blue Bloods, as well as in his recurring role as Senator Edison Davis on the hit drama Scandal.

Lewis is a proud founding member of Black Theatre United, an organization which stands together to help protect Black people, Black talent and Black lives of all shapes and orientations in theatre and communities across the country. He received Tony, Drama Desk, Drama League and Outer Critics Circle award nominations for his performance as Porgy in the Broadway production of The Gershwins’ Porgy & Bess. Other Broadway credits include Sondheim on Sondheim, The Little Mermaid, Les Misérables, Chicago, Amour, The Wild Party, Side Show, Miss Saigon and The Who’s Tommy. In London’s West End he has appeared as Javert in Les Misérables and Les Misérables: The 25th Anniversary Concert, which aired on PBS.

Off-Broadway Lewis has performed in Dessa Rose (Drama Desk nomination, AUDELCO Award), Shakespeare in the Park’s The TempestThe Two Gentlemen of Verona (Drama League nomination), Captains Courageous and A New Brain. His regional credits include Porgy in The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (A.R.T.), Ragtime, Dreamgirls (with Jennifer Holliday), First You Dream, Sweeney Todd and The Fantasticks.

His additional film credits include Christmas in Tune (starring opposite Reba McEntire), Magnum Opus, Winter’s Tale, Sex and the City 2, Confidences, and Preaching to the Choir.

Norm Lewis’ albums The Norm Lewis Christmas Album and This is the Life can be found on as well as


Career highlights for American soprano Talise Trevigne include her celebrated portrayal of Bess in Porgy and Bess at The Atlanta Opera (TAO); she returned as a TAO company principal artist in the 2020–21 season as Nedda in Pagliacci. She will star with Cincinnati Opera during their 2022 season as Mimì in La bohème and as Patience in Castor and Patience.

Trevigne played the role of Sunny in desert in for Boston Lyric Opera in their exciting new episodic opera series devised for the small screen and curated and directed by James Darrah. Previous highlights include her return appearance with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra for Tippett’s A Child of our Time in performances in the UK and Germany conducted by Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla.

In an earlier season, Trevigne debuted the role of Ma in Missy Mazzoli/Royce Vavrek’s highly lauded Proving Up at Omaha Opera and at Lincoln Centre, and she sang Nedda with Madison Opera. At Theater Basel she appeared as Madama Butterfly, and, for her rendition of Christopher Rouse’s masterpiece Kabir Padavali with Albany Symphony, she was honored with a 2016 Grammy Award nomination in the category “Best Solo Classical CD.” Other roles include Mabel in Pirates of Penzance, Julie in Showboat, Mimì in La bohème, Jemmy in Guillaume Tell, Euridice in Orfeo ed Euridice and the title role in Manon.

Past successes include the role of Micaëla in Carmen with Hawaii Opera Theatre and at San Diego Opera, and, in Fort Worth, she created the role of Clara in JFK, a role she took to Opéra de Montréal—a Canadian debut. She sang Leila in Les pêcheurs de perles at North Carolina Opera and the title role in Iris at Bard SummerScape. Another role debut brought Ophelia in Hamlet into her repertoire at Fort Worth Opera, and she sang Grétry’s rarely heard L’épreuve villageoise in a recording and performances with Opera Lafayette. Her Heroines in Les contes d’Hoffmann at Opera de Lyon under the baton of Kazushi Ōno were a great success, and she revived the roles at Israeli Opera with Frédéric Chaslin.

Enjoying a long collaboration with composer Jake Heggie, Trevigne sang the world premiere of his song cycle Pieces of 9/11—Memories from Houston at Houston Grand Opera, where she also inaugurated the role of Clara in It’s a Wonderful Life. Her solo CD, At the Statue of Venus (GPR Records), written by Heggie and Glen Roven, quickly climbed to the top of the U.S. record charts; she is also featured on Heggie’s CD release, here/after, songs of lost voices alongside Stephen Costello, Joyce DiDonato and Nathan Gunn. She established the role of Pip the cabin boy in Moby-Dick, which was written for her, in the world premiere at Dallas Opera in 2010; she also appeared as Pip at San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera and Washington National Opera. In 2015, she brought the role of Sister Rose in Dead Man Walking into her repertoire at Opera Parallèle in San Francisco.

Talise Trevigne made her UK stage debut as June Gibbons in the world premiere of Errollyn Wallen's The Silent Twins with Almeida Opera; she also originated the title role in the world premiere of Judith Weir's Armida for the BBC. In 2007, she won the coveted Royal Philharmonic Society Music Award for her mesmerizing portrayal of Violetta in La traviata with Birmingham Opera and sang Gilda in Rigoletto at the Dublin International Opera Festival in 2008. In her Australian debut, Trevigne appeared as The Beloved in the world premiere of Liza Lim's The Navigator, directed by Barrie Kosky for the Melbourne International Festival, and she revived the role at the Chekhov International Arts Festival in Moscow and at the Bastille in Paris (December 2009).

In concert, the artist’s appearances include Cantaloube's Chants D'Auvergne, Satie's Socrate, Mahler's Second Symphony and Fourth Symphony, Barber's Prayers of Kierkegaard, Strauss' Vier letzte Lieder, and Orff’s Carmina Burana. Talise Trevigne studied at the Manhattan School of Music and graduated with her Master of Music degree. While still a student, she made her operatic debut, under the direction of Julius Rudel, as Violetta in La traviata and Zerlina in Don Giovanni at the Aspen Music Festival.


A master of American musical style, Grammy-nominated conductor John Morris Russell has devoted himself to redefining the American orchestral experience. In his eleventh year as conductor of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, the wide-range and diversity of his work as a conductor, collaborator and educator continues to reinvigorate the musical scene throughout Cincinnati and across the continent. As Music Director of the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra in South Carolina, Russell leads the prestigious Hilton Head International Piano Competition, and he also serves as Principal Pops Conductor of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, following in the footsteps of Marvin Hamlisch and Doc Severinsen. As a guest conductor, he has worked with many of the most distinguished orchestras in North America, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Boston Pops, National Symphony, and the orchestras of Toronto, Vancouver, Dallas, Detroit, and Pittsburgh.

With the Cincinnati Pops, Russell leads sold-out performances at Music Hall, concerts throughout the region, as well as domestic and international tours—including Florida in 2014 and China/Taiwan in 2017. His visionary leadership at the Pops created the “American Originals Project,” which has garnered both critical and popular acclaim in two landmark recordings: American Originals (the music of Stephen Foster) as well as American Originals: 1918. In 2020, the American Originals Project continued with King Records and the Cincinnati Sound with Late Night with David Letterman musical director, Paul Shaffer, celebrating the beginnings of bluegrass, country, rockabilly, soul and funk immortalized in recordings produced in the Queen City. Russell’s other recordings with The Pops include Home for the Holidays, Superheroes, Carnival of the Animals, and Voyage. Russell’s recent collaborations with artists around the world include Aretha Franklin, Emanuel Ax, Amy Grant and Vince Gill, Common, Garrick Ohlsson, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Jon Kimura Parker, Ann Hampton Callaway, Michael McDonald, Cho-Liang Lin, Sutton Foster, George Takei, Megan Hilty, Ranky Tanky, Steve Martin, Katharine McPhee, Brian Wilson, Cynthia Erivo, and Leslie Odom, Jr.


In 2001 during a particularly difficult time in the city’s history, CSO staff members Kathy Jorgensen-Finley and Anne Cushing-Reid, along with then CSO Associate Conductor John Morris Russell, planned the very first Classical Roots: Spiritual Heights concert held at Lincoln Heights Missionary Baptist Church. The premise for the concert, as set forth by Russell and the staff, along with the CSO’s Multicultural Awareness Council (MAC), was to promote unity by celebrating and amplifying the many contributions of Black composers, artists and musicians to the American musical landscape. That first concert also catalyzed a conversation among the CSO, community advisors and musicians from other churches and community choirs, resulting in the creation of the Classical Roots Community Choir, led by William Henry Caldwell. Over the past two decades, the choir has had up to 150 members representing more than 50 area churches.

As Classical Roots continued to grow, so did its programming, influence, and roster of guest artists. The early years of Classical Roots were more focused on classical repertoire, but this began to expand to include jazz, Gospel, soul, musical theater, and beyond. Just as orchestral music has influenced Classical Roots, Classical Roots has also had a profound impact on the Orchestra’s Music Hall concerts. Classical Roots discovered and presented music that has been presented on educational concerts, Pops concerts and CSO concerts. The roster of acclaimed international Black artists who have collaborated in a performance, include CeCe Winans, Marvin Winans, Take 6, Cynthia Erivo and Common. The vision of unity rings as true today as it did in 2001. Classical Roots continues to bring together volunteer choral music leaders, clergy leadership, church partners and a collection of passionate supporters and leaders who represent the rich diversity of the Greater Cincinnati region.

William Henry Caldwell, Resident Conductor

For two decades, Classical Roots has been a Cincinnati community staple, and what started as a small concert series in 2001 has grown into a diverse community of music lovers, united in celebration of the rich legacy of African American music and the African American experience. At its center is the all-volunteer Classical Roots Community Mass Choir, led by Resident Conductor William Henry Caldwell, and made up of singers from more than 50 churches who perform in concerts and other collaborations throughout the year.

William Henry Caldwell is resident conductor of the CSO’s Classical Roots Community Choir and of the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Chorus for The Cleveland Orchestra; he also is Artistic Director for the Vocal Arts Mastery Program, a special after-school program for the city of Cleveland sponsored by the Cleveland Foundation and the Tri-C Creative Arts Division. He maintains an active schedule as a lyric baritone with recent engagements with The Cleveland Orchestra, the Dayton Philharmonic, and Bach Society of Dayton.

He is an active board member for the Dayton Performance Arts Alliance, the Rosenthal Foundation for the Arts, Cincinnati Youth Choir, Dayton Public Radio WDPR, and the May Festival. He is music director at historic First Baptist Church of Dayton.

A native of Demopolis, Alabama, Caldwell attended Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, where he graduated magna cum laude with degrees in Music and English. He did graduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin for the Master of Music in Vocal Performance degree, and continued study for the doctorate at The Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music with a cognate in choral conducting.

Marion Peraza de Webb, Artistic Advisor and Coach
Felipe Morales-Torres, Coach

The Nouveau Program supports increased participation in classical music by African American and Latine student musicians by providing equitable opportunities for music study and performance. The Nouveau Program includes several groups, and students must audition to participate. Nouveau members receive weekly chamber coaching, perform throughout the season, and participate in age-appropriate workshops and activities. Nouveau ensembles include Novice, Apprentice, Chamber Players, and Winds. The Nouveau Program is supported by the D’Addario Foundation; the CSO’s Multicultural Awareness Council; Queen City (OH) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated; PricewaterhouseCoopers; and The Wohlgemuth Herschede Foundation.

Violinist Marion Peraza de Webb began her musical career as a member of Venezuela’s Youth Orchestra System, El Sistema. As a member of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, she has toured Japan, France, Spain, Mexico, Colombia and Brazil, among others, and has performed on seven recordings. At her teaching studio, Peraza Music Workshop (PMW), she teaches private violin lessons, coaches her award-winning chamber ensembles, and offers theory classes. The PMW is a Founding School of the Carnegie Hall Royal Conservatory Achievement Program. As a guest teacher/clinician, she has taught at the Western Springs Suzuki Talent Education and Elmhurst College in Chicago, University of Vermont, University of Louisville, University of Southern Maine, Bermuda Music School, Conservatorio de Bogotá and Simón Bolívar Conservatory in Venezuela. Her principal teachers are José Francisco Del Castillo (Simón Bolívar Conservatory), Margaret Pardee (Juilliard School), the Tokyo Quartet, and the Vermeer Quartet.

Felipe Morales-Torres is an award-winning conductor and educator with a passion for inspiring the next generation of musicians. Morales coaches the Nouveau Apprentice group, serves as Conductor of the CSYO Concert Orchestra, and is the Orchestra Director for Anderson High School. He is also an active guest conductor and clinician for student orchestras in the U.S. and Latin America, traveling to Costa Rica each summer to teach and conduct for the Foundation for the Advancement of Strings Education (FASE).

Morales started his musical life as a violist, and later pursued bassoon studies as an undergraduate at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. In 2019, he completed a master’s degree in Music Education and Orchestral Conducting, earning the University’s Excellence in Teaching Award for his work with undergraduate music education majors.


With a legacy dating back 127 years, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is considered one of America’s finest and most versatile ensembles. Led by Louis Langrée since 2013, the CSO’s distinguished roster of past music directors includes Leopold Stokowski, Eugène Ysaÿe, Fritz Reiner, Max Rudolf, Jesús López Cobos and Paavo Järvi. Matthias Pintscher is the Orchestra’s Creative Partner, and previous artistic partners have included Lang Lang, Philip Glass, Branford Marsalis and Jennifer Higdon. The Orchestra also performs as the Cincinnati Pops, founded by Erich Kunzel in 1977 and currently led by John Morris Russell with Damon Gupton serving as Principal Guest Conductor. The CSO further elevates the city’s vibrant arts scene by serving as the official orchestra for the Cincinnati May Festival, Cincinnati Opera and Cincinnati Ballet.

The CSO has long championed the composers and music of its time and has given historic American premieres by Claude Debussy, Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, Maurice Ravel, Béla Bartók, William Grant Still and other prominent composers. It has also commissioned many works that ultimately became mainstays of the classical repertoire, including Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man. The Orchestra continues to actively commission new work, amplifying new voices from a diverse array of backgrounds, most recently with the Fanfare Project, a series of solo instrument works written for CSO musicians to mark a moment in time during the Covid pandemic.

Deeply committed to inclusion, relevance, and enhancing and expanding opportunities for the children of Greater Cincinnati, the Orchestra works to bring music education, in its many different forms, to as broad a public as possible. In 2020, the CSO was one of the first American orchestras to create a Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer position to ensure the absorption of best DE&I practices into every facet of the organization. The CSO/CCM Diversity Fellowship, a nationally recognized program in partnership with the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, provides a graduate degree-level education with performance and professional development opportunities for extraordinary young string players from populations historically underrepresented in American orchestras. The CSO is also an incubator for and partner to NIMAN, a consortium of American orchestras, professional musicians and educators established to address the lack of racial equity in the classical music field by aligning resources and collaborating to strengthen the trajectory of classical instrumentalists of color at all stages of their pre-careers.

Buy Tickets

Friday, April 22, 2022, 7:30pm
John Morris Russell, conductor
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Classical Roots Community Choir, William Henry Caldwell, resident conductor
     with choir soloists Ciara Harper and Noël Walton
Members of the Nouveau Program, coached by Felipe Morales-Torres and Artistic Advisor Marion Peraza de Webb
Talise Trevigne, soprano
Norm Lewis, baritone

Michael ABELS: Outburst
James Weldon JOHNSON: Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing
Giuseppe VERDI: “Sempre Libera” from La Traviata
Will Marion COOK: In Dahomey Suite
Scott JOPLIN: Treemonisha Suite
Eubie BLAKE: “I’m Just Wild About Harry” from Shuffle Along
James CLEVELAND/Charles FOLD: Charles Fold Suite


Margaret Allison BONDS: “Alleluia” from The Ballad of The Brown King
Gregory SPEARS: “Think You Know This Man” from Castor and Patience
Terence BLANCHARD: “Peculiar Grace” from Fire Shut Up in My Bones
Stephen FLAHERTY: “The Wheels of a Dream” from Ragtime
Stephen FLAHERTY: “Make Them Hear You” from Ragtime
Andrew Lloyd WEBBER: “Music of the Night” from Phantom of the Opera
Charlie SMALLS: “Home” from The Wiz
Luther VANDROSS: “Brand New Day” from The Wiz

All programs, artists, dates, and prices are subject to change.